FLUX // Shifting Reality // Alberto Biasi

Author :: Nazareth Kawakami

At an Alberto Biasi exhibit, the viewer is as important as the paint.

Alberto Biasi’s paintings are moving, in more ways than you think. His deceptively two-dimensional paintings use optics and perception to make it seem as though their patterns are spinning, shifting, or fluctuating depending on the viewer’s gaze and movements. Biasi also employs techniques ranging from layers of ribbon scoring the frame, to twisting and bending the canvas itself, giving the work a sense of ever-changing depth and dimension.


For example, people of varying height will view entirely different pieces as each angle provides a unique image-even the speed at which the art is walked past will provide a unique experience for the viewer, which is what Alberto says is the whole point. “Reality is what each person perceives it to be, in that moment,” he says. “Works are born, live life, and die with each viewer. The reality of that work and that moment is whatever the viewer makes it.”

Commonly called Optical art (shortened to Op art), of which Biasi is an innovator (he founded the famous Italian art collective Gruppe N), his approach to the form showcases a beauty and complexity that must be seen to be understood. From the precision of his technique to the deliberate manner in which they are displayed, his art is masterful. But, the true magic lies in the philosophy behind it all. At every Alberto Biasi exhibit, the audience is the component that makes his art come alive. By the very nature of his work, he engages his audience in a way that causes them to not only view, but interact with each piece.

At the Ravizza Brownfield Gallery on Nu’uanu Avenue in Honolulu, Biasi prepares for his upcoming solo showcase comprised almost entirely of new pieces, each drawing inspiration from an aspect of Hawaiian culture. In one piece, its design is based on traditional Hawaiian tattoo styles, another takes note from Hawaii’s tropical color scheme.


When asked about why he chose Hawaii for his next exhibit, Biasi, who has already shown his works all over the world (more than 100 solo exhibits and 500 group exhibits) thought he ought to explore new geographic territory: Hawaii. He recalled a show he participated in several decades ago, who’s title, translated from Italian, meant “Walk Without Following Your Footsteps.” By this, Biasi beckons us all to proceed off the beaten path, explore new possibilities, and to continue to push for innovation.

Op Art :: Alberto Biasi
The Ravizza Brownfield Gallery
March 2nd – May 19th
Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm

1109 Nu’uanu Avenue, Honolulu, Hi


Honolulu Museum of Art - Beyond the Museum

New Chinatown gallery features work by Michelangelo Pistoletto


In March, two days before the Honolulu Biennial opened, two art-world veterans, one based in Jackson, Wyoming, the other in Lugano, Switzerland, joined forces to open the Ravizza Brownfield Gallery in Chinatown. It’s a first for Honolulu—the white-walled space (that was formerly part of the shuttered Fresh Café)  “aims to create a cultural presence to promote European art in Hawai‘i.” And its opening show features work by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, hailed as a founder of Arte Povera and as a forefather of interactive art. If you don’t get to travel to the world’s art capitals much, this is a rare chance for you to experience Pistoletto’s work, which is on view through May 31.

Allegra Ravizza, who runs an eponymous gallery in Lugano, and Shari Brownfield, an art consultant, find that Hawai‘i “has a creative energy that we are inspired by,” Brownfield told Pacific Business News, and they are “excited to create something unique for the community.”

That unique something means inviting artists to create work inspired by Hawai‘i, or, in the case of Pistoletto, update existing work to be site specific.

On view at Tate Liverpool is Pistoletto’s 1974 Venere degli stracci (Venus of the Rags), a classical statue of the Roman goddess of love wedged into a mountain of second-hand clothes. At the heart of the Ravizza Brownfield show is a related work—Untitled (Metamorphosis), 1976. This time the pile of Goodwill-ready clothing is divided in half by a double mirror. On one half the clothing is white, on the other multicolored. What you see changes as you circle the mound.

Also on view is the 2002 work Love Difference. Originally created to foster peaceful dialogue between Mediterranean countries, the installation has been recreated for Ravizza Brownfield Gallery with languages of the people who make up contemporary Hawai‘i’s population.

Standing in front of Pistoletto’s “Terzo Paradiso,” which is available for purchase as a temporary tattoo, Keliiokalani Makua (who was featured in our exhibition “Tattoo Honolulu,”) blessed the gallery on its opening night in March.

Likewise, Pistoletto updated his 2003 work Terzo Paradiso, using the mathematical sign for infinity, with Hawai‘i references. The gallery has created a limited-edition temporary tattoo of the work.

The gallery brings an exciting new element to Honolulu’s art landscape.

Ravizza Brownfield Gallery: 1109 Nu‘uanu Ave. at Hotel Street, 724-6877, Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm